Even if you're not driving through a blizzard, the effects of winter weather pose a mobility challenge for everyone, whether it's the possibility of slipping on the sidewalk or delayed flights due to icy runways.
For seniors, in particular, the ice and snow of winter is more than a discomfort - it's a hazard. It's so easy to slip and fall that many choose to stay inside, rather than take the risk of an injury from falling. Going outside to simply get the mail can seem like a chance they don't want to take.
The best way to face down winter and all its challenges is to think ahead and be prepared. A few simple solutions will make winter much safer - and more enjoyable - for you and any guests you might invite over.
Get the right winter clothing- Clothing has to go to the next level in winter and serve a real purpose. Not only do you need added warmth, you have to have traction gear for ice and material that will keep out the dampness of snow, sleet and rain. Clothing technology has come a long way in helping us deal with winter. New, lighter-weight fabrics fend off sub-zero cold and all kinds of precipitation without adding bulk, which is great for everyone, but particularly for professionals who need to maintain dress standards at work.
Most shoes just aren't able to stand up to the conditions of winter, and become hazardous when the world is glazed with ice. Innovative products like Stabilicers, ice cleats from 32 North, make any shoes into ground-gripping wonders. The Stabilicers Lite is adaptable to a wide variety of casual shoes and can be put on using only one hand. Plus, they're small and easy to stash, so you can easily carry them with you when you travel.
Prepare your car for winter - Winter driving poses its own unique issues.First, make sure your car is ready by checking that fluids are temperature-appropriate and up to the correct levels, wheels are in good alignment, tire treads are in good condition, and that the battery, belts and hoses are in good shape. Make sure you have an ice scraper in the car at all times
Whether you're driving long distances to visit the family or just heading to work, it's a good idea to keep an up-to-date emergency kit in the vehicle in case you become stranded. Include good jumper cables - if the ones you have are getting worn, spring for a new pair because if you get caught in the cold with a dead car, they will be your ticket home. Also include blankets, a flashlight, flares, a first aid kit, a small shovel, a window scraper and a bag of something that will help you gain traction, like kitty litter, sand or salt. Extra hats and gloves can be handy, too, as can small, non-perishable snacks like energy bars or granola bars. You can also bring along your GPS Medical Alert System to pin point your location in the event of an emergency.
Keep up on property maintenance - It's important to keep a close eye on your gutters, steps and sidewalks, even when you're not in the middle of a snow or ice storm. Make sure that icicles aren't forming, or if they have, knock them down (carefully) to avoid damage to your home and to prevent them from falling on anyone.
If ice forms on your walkways, keep ice melt, sand or salt near the door so you can easily distribute it and prevent slips and falls. When the snow starts to fall, be sure to shovel regularly. If you're a city dweller, your neighbors will thank you. If you're not, you're taking steps to protect yourself and any visiting guests. The Stabilicer ice cleats can also come in handy while you're doing these chores, giving you better traction to make the job quicker, so you can get back in out of the cold.
Check your stairs and walkways - Keep your floor and stairs free of clutter, and avoid using scatter rugs. Have at least one handrail (preferably two) on all stairways and steps in your home. Ensure handrails are securely attached and in good repair. Check that stairs are in good repair and are slip resistant. If any stairs are broken, have them fixed promptly. Add a strip along the edge of each step in a contrasting color to make it easier to see or use reflective anti-skid treads. Take the same precautions for outdoor steps. In addition, arrange to have leaves, snow and ice removed on a regular basis. Use salt or sand throughout the winter months.